Théâtre Sans Frontières, L'Enfant Peul

Review in Issue 14-1 | Spring 2002

Although this is an adaptation of Amadou Hampate Ba’s autobiography, it has all the trappings of a traditional folk tale. Perhaps because it has a young boy at its centre, and features Kings and Wise Women. Or maybe it’s the style of the piece: simple use of indigenous props and corrugated screens to promote a multitude of locations, a combination of music, acting and storytelling.

Performed in French, this complex story of Ba’s family origins and early years under French colonialism conjures up the atmosphere of African village life. The programme offers a précis of the narrative together with a family tree to help audiences work out the relationships. But unless you studied this in depth prior to the performance, you might find yourself lost. Actors play as many as four roles, as well as representing childhood friends and operating as storytellers. Despite the clever use of costume indicators, I found myself totally confused at several points.

The eight-strong multicultural cast fill every corner of the stage, a refreshing change to the small-cast shows we’re used to. Movement is accomplished and precise. And they perform with relish. Whether the language was a barrier I couldn’t penetrate, or whether the adaptation tried to embrace too much of the original, I’m unsure. But I left frustrated at not being able to work out what was going on. Théâtre sans Frontières’ aim to facilitate communication between cultures wasn’t working for me.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-1
p. 26